Leisure centre, food court and department stores: What you want to see at Sunderland's Debenhams site

Sunderland shoppers have had their say on what they think should take the place of the city’s Debenhams store.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 11:59 am

The Wearside branch of Debenhams, in the Bridges shopping centre, had its final day on Saturday, May 8 after the company collapsed at the end of 2020.

The high street giant held clearance sales across its remaining stores when non-essential reopened on Monday, April 12 following the third national lockdown in England.

Echo readers have been sharing their views on what they would like to see take over the site.

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From a new simming pool to a food court packed with choice, here are some of the most popular suggestions from our Facebook page:

A leisure centre/facility

Susan Pink: “Some sort of big leisure facility. Family entertainment. Give people a reason to go into town then they’ll visit the shops and hopefully attract more shops to open.”

Rosalind Grant: “Definitely a leisure centre again with a proper family swimming pool like what we had and an ice rink. Easy access to it from public transport.”

Shoppers visiting Sunderland Debenhams for the final time on May 8.

Jamie Leigh Brown: “Leisure centre for deffo, with swimming pool, play area and other activities. It’s big enough with an attached car park.”

Food court/entertainment complex

Callum Lawson: “A food court like Eldon Square would be good, need more choice for places to eat in Sunderland

Brett David Redmayne: “Food court would be a great idea, or possibly move the cinema from Sunniside into the centre of town.”

Echo readers have been sharing their views on the future of the Debenhams site.

Natalia Rooks: “Shift TK Maxx elsewhere, move the cinema/Nando’s/bowling to there, with a few more food places and possibly a soft play like Metrocentre Qube.”

Maz Carling: “An affordable entertainment hub for all ages, sensory rooms for kids with disabilities [...] maybe have stuff for the younger ones on the lower floor and get older the higher up you go, would give the kids something to do in a safe environment.”

Mahmud Ali: “Floor one, kids’ entertainment, floor two restaurants, floor three bars.”

Indoor market/mix of shops

Debenhams collapsed at the end of 2020.

Stuart Carter: “It would be nice to have two indoor markets, one fruit and veg, the other a butcher’s market.”

David Parkin: “Why not transform it into smaller units inside and rent it free for the first few months for new upstart businesses to give them a chance to get up and running.”

Peta Fox: “A temporary mini mall, and maybe a Forbidden Planet.”

Julia Thompson: “Basically a selection of smaller stores covering clothes, shoes, crafts, sport, home furnishings. Just a good selection of smaller shops over a wide range so there's something for everyone.”

Ian Thompson: “Move Jacky White’s stalls into there. Up-do Jacky White’s. Then work on Sunderland’s own department store made up of the Jacky White’s stall holders.”

Evelyn Patterson: “It would be lovely if it was a mall with different shops.”

Department store

Scott Barrett:“How about another department store - I know that's as much a pipe dream idea as any other suggestions at the moment.”

Barry Walker: “Move Marks and Spencer to the Debenhams site.”

Linda Winter: “A quality store some thing like Debenhams to bring people back in the city.”

Deborah Fitzsimmons: “M&S or Next, bigger stores more choices.”

Melanie Field: “Next Home or IKEA.”

Stephen Hagel: “Any reputable department store - like John Lewis.”

Paul Tate: “John Lewis would be a canny choice.”

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